By Kathryn Hawley, Nodaway County Health Department RN, health educator

Children are most likely to get rotavirus disease in the winter and spring, December through June.

Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. It affects mostly infants and young children. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to serious dehydration, meaning loss of body fluid. If dehydration is not treated, it can be deadly.

The virus is spread by the fecal-oral route. It is shed by an infected person then enters another person’s mouth causing them to become infected. The virus is passed through a sick person’s stool. For example, rotavirus can be transferred from an infected person’s stool to a toy. Then a baby puts the toy in her mouth and the virus starts disrupting the infant’s digestive tract. Foods, liquids, hands and other surfaces that have rotavirus can spread infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “there are two different rotavirus vaccines. Both are given by putting vaccine drops in an infant’s mouth. Rotateq®: infants should receive three doses of this vaccine, at two months, four months and six months of age. Rotarix®: infants should receive two doses of this vaccine, at two months and four months of age.

“This first dose of either vaccine is most effective if given before a child is 15 weeks old. Children should receive all doses of rotavirus vaccine before they turn eight months old.”

Consult your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of this vaccine and any concerns you might have. 

Cleanliness and good hand hygiene are important in preventing the spread of rotavirus.

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